Title: Rozen Maiden (volumes 1-2)
Text: English (translated)
Publisher: Tokyopop (originally Gentosha Comics)
Let's see, a story about dolls with supernatural powers who have to fight it out in order to become some kind of perfected conception of a girl so they can meet their creator. Off the wall? Sure. Fun, though, particularly since during their downtime, they tend to make the main human character's life into something akin to a living hell.
Surprisingly, volume one doesn't suffer nearly as much from the general slow pacing that introductory volumes normally do, which is a nice change of pace. When just getting to know the characters is downright fun, the writer is obviously doing something right.
I'll admit right now that my gripes with the second volume are cosmetic translation issues. Please make allowances for my linguistic nerdishness while I complain for a moment.
First off, every time they referred to "Lil' Strawberry", I about lost it. Sure, it's technically a fair translation of what was probably "Ichigo-chan", referring to Hinaichigo, in the manga, but here's the kicker: I kept expecting to turn the page and see the rest of the dolls' names translated as well. I wouldn't have gotten very far against characters called "True Red" and "Mercury Lamp". (I'm about three keystrokes away from breaking my rule against emoticons in the blog at the moment, because this is just begging for a sweatdrop.) Still, in deference to Tokyopop's choice not to use the original Japanese honorifics, though I still say the text loses flavor without them, since the English "equivalents" don't carry nearly the level of attached meaning, I can understand this one. Not approve, but understand.
Next up, impish. Yes, impish. A word that has connotations that don't come even remotely close to a) what the character was trying to convey in the original text, and b) what the word that was actually used really means. (Rejoice, you get a freebie Japanese of the Week!) The original word in question is: 禿び (chibi) n. 1) small child; pipsqueak; small fry; 2) (vulg) short person; midget; dwarf; 3) small animal; runt; 4) worn down. In this case, we're looking at the first or second definition (context in the manga). Now, here's what Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary has to say on the word impish: Impish adj. 1) of, relating to, or befitting an imp; especially : MISCHEVIOUS
Okay, laying those aside, the last one is one of those thing that Tokyopop will never get right until they relax on allowing actual Japanese into their translations. Part of Suiseiseki's character is the misuse of "desu". To get out of this without a minimum three page explanation of the proper usages of the word, please take my word for it that "desu" does not end every sentence in normal speech. Unfortunately, it's one of those things that just doesn't translate well, and since in Tokyopop's translating religion, leaving the language alone doesn't fly, Suiseiseki's idiosyncrasy just kinda... disappears.